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Clark's Lack of Confidence Creates Huge Cabinet

Clark's Lack of Confidence Creates Huge Cabinet

Wednesday 14 Aug 2002

Helen Clark's creation of the largest cabinet since the 1980s shows she has little faith in many of her MPs to understand their portfolios without help, ACT New Zealand Acting Leader Ken Shirley said today.

"Today's Government reshuffle demonstrates the Prime Minister has low confidence in many of her huge cabinet. Helen Clark doesn't have the faith to put key portfolios such as justice, transport and commerce in the hands of her associates, so she has broken the portfolios into dumbed down, bite-size portions. As a result, taxpayers are footing the bill for almost half the Labour MPs to enjoy the trappings of office.

"It is obvious that she is anticipating trouble from the Labour backbenches, so she has expanded the executive to give her the numbers to roll caucus.

"We see the creation of the ludicrous "Urban Affairs" position for failed Broadcasting and Biosecurity Minister Marian Hobbs. It's obviously Judith Tizard's job to carry the Prime Minister's bags in Auckland, and Ms Hobbs' job in Wellington and Christchurch. Labour has turned the expensive creation of politically correct, meaningless portfolios into an art form.

"Placing Local Government responsibility in the hands of the lowest-ranked cabinet minister shows Labour has no plans to fix the mess Sandra Lee left.

"Was Peter Dunne informed of the new, mammoth cabinet? He promised before the election to: "Reduce the total size of the Executive (Cabinet ministers, ministers outside Cabinet, and under-secretaries) to 18 members; Cut the number of ministerial portfolios thereby reducing administrative costs, without any loss in services".

"This giant cabinet is insulting to taxpayers who want more accountability at a lower price.

"With the prospects of him joining the executive within this term of parliament, he is now fast back-tracking on this issue. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why the total executive wing of Government in New Zealand should not be less than 20, and in my view the optimum number would be in the range of 12 to 15," Mr Shirley said.


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